PORTLAND, Ore. — As Wednesday's game between the Orlando Magic and the Portland Trail Blazers approached, Dwight Howard spent part of his time in the Pacific Northwest on the campus of adidas' North America headquarters.
During his visit to the adidas campus, Howard and company officials talked about their plans for All-Star Weekend in Orlando on Feb. 24-26. Howard said there would be "some kind of big celebration in Orlando for all the fans down there."
"We're looking forward to having something crazy," Howard added later. "I can't tell you guys right now, but it's going to be fun."
Famous BlazerDave Twardzik, the Magic's assistant general manager, did not join the Magic on their road trip — he was in Ogden, Utah — but he still had a presence inside the Rose Garden on Wednesday.
Twardzik was a member of the 1976-77 Trail Blazers team that won the franchise's lone NBA title.
And his jersey number, 13, has been retired and hangs from the Rose Garden rafters.
The Blazers won their title during Stan Van Gundy's senior year of high school.
"I will admit that I was more focused on Bill Walton than I was on Dave at the time," Van Gundy joked. "I grew up in California. I was a huge UCLA fan, so obviously Walton was a hero.
"I remember the entire team. I remember how they played. I think that was one of the great teams, probably, in NBA history in terms of the way they played and moved the ball and played through Walton in the high post. I thought it was a great, great team to watch."
In addition to Twardzik and Walton, that team included Maurice Lucas, Lionel Hollins and Johnny Davis, who went on to become a Magic head coach.
Tough townHoward and other Magic players said the Rose Garden is one of the toughest venues in the NBA for a visiting team.
"They always play good at home," Howard said.
"This is one of the toughest places to play. But it's also a fun place to play. I love how the fans are here. I have some great memories here even though we've been on the losing end coming up here. But it's always fun to play here for some reason."
Layups• Magic small forward Quentin Richardson was not expected to play Wednesday. Richardson continues to be bothered by an injured left ankle and a skin problem on his foot from his attempt to treat the injury. Van Gundy said Richardson could return for Monday's game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
• The Magic had not played on Monday or on Tuesday. The Blazers had played Tuesday night. Howard said he wasn't sure if the Magic's rest would be an advantage or a disadvantage.
• The first balloting update for the All-Star Game is scheduled to be released today.
• Van Gundy raved about the play of Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge. Van Gundy said Aldridge is "one of the most underrated guys in the league" and deserves to be an All-Star. "You don't see many people affecting his shot very much," Van Gundy said. "You don't want to give him anything real easy. You don't want to give it to him open. You want to try to get into his space a little bit, and you want to do it without fouling him."
• Van Gundy is pleased by the effort of swingman Von Wafer, who scored 12 points in Sunday's win in Sacramento and is about to finish his first month as a member of the Magic. "He's probably our best guy on our roster at being able to create his own shot of the perimeter guys, and he's bringing us good energy," Van Gundy said. "He's still got a long ways to go defensively, but what I'm seeing is a guy who really wants to do it and is making a great effort to do it. So, yeah, we'd like to keep playing him."
firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog at OrlandoSentinel.com/magicblog. Subscribe to our Orlando Magic newsletter at OrlandoSentinel.com/joinus.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun